It’s so hard switching from a life of “I should” to “I am and I want.” I was raised to please. I was raised to follow rules and listen to authority which hopefully would place me in their good graces. But what happens here, and it’s something I see in my peers and students, is that we start to focus on the pleasing and instant gratification.
I have been the person who received a B on an assignment, saw the professor write a “:o)” on it, and thought “she must hate me.” We take things personally because, for the majority of our childhood and adolescence, that’s how the system worked. You get to know you teachers personally, learn what work they like to see or hear, and output that like the machine parts that we are. For me, elementary, middle, and high school was never about developing soft skills, understanding your finances, or starting a career. We believed it was about getting the A.
An A represents that you are favored, intelligent, and deserving. You have mastered this thing or subject and you deserve the gold star and the cookie. The grade system or marks mean that you retained the information that teachers, administrators, or standard test creators thought most important (which is primarily subjective). However, it doesn’t mean that you are enough.
In reality, the A doesn’t have value. It’s truly about what you learn and where you want to go. It’s my hope that in the future we don’t place high pressures and expectations on our children (start at 17:45) to achieve the intangible, but that we push them to gain tangible skills and tools to manifest their dreams. While some would disagree with my focus on gaining tools to paint the future, I believe that it’s one of the best techniques to survive in our current society.
Sometimes it’s not about your morals, grades, or applications. It’s about your look, the story, and what you’re able to do with your resources. In a world in which you need experience to gain experience and still be unpaid for that labor, it’s not about the A. It’s about how to get yourself in the room to ask the right questions and make the best move for yourself.
I think we get so wrapped up in the A or the pat on the back that we forget to be human. And we have normalized those unhealthy behaviors and accepted them as is without a question. We forget to think about our own best interest. We forget to define ourselves and our wants, even as they change. And they will certainly change and that’s okay. You just have to remember to live a life of “I am and I want” intentionally, rather than an “I should” life voluntarily.
There’s a danger in allowing others to write your narrative for their own interests.